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For the Record December 2011


For The Record

Managing records in the New South Wales public sector



ISSN 1321-6260
December 2011 • Number 90

Key findings of the digital disposal survey | SharePoint guidance | November Records Managers Forum | Draft disposal triggers glossaryManaging recordkeeping risks in business systems | Digital Archives project update | 2011 FutureProof Newsletter issued | Update on digitisation guidelines | Recent posts on FutureProof blog | 2012 Training Calendar | Records Management Assessment Tool | Revised Storage standard | Revision of Keywords for Councils | New records management system standards | Retention and disposal authorities approved | Best wishes for festive season

Key findings of the digital disposal survey

In October 2011, State Records distributed a survey on public sector attitudes and practices in relation to digital disposal to all NSW public offices. During the two week period it was available, 83 individual survey responses were received.  Thank you so much to all those who took the time to provide us with some really fantastic information on digital disposal issues.

The key issues to emerge from this survey are:

  • limited record destruction is taking place in the EDRMS and business system environments
  • the disposal of records in business systems is regarded by many public offices as costly, time consuming and difficult
  • many organisations are not aware of the retention requirements that apply to records held in their business systems
  • there is a widespread belief that digital disposal can 'wait till later' and for many disposal of paper records is seen as a much more pressing issue
  • most records managers are not confident that their significant records can be maintained for more than 10 years.

Each of these issues is of concern to State Records as they pose risks to the useability, accessibility and maintenance of government business information.

The survey responses quite clearly illustrate that digital disposal is seen as a process that can be deferred for some time into the future. This is understandable given the resource constraints that affect records managers and the other complex recordkeeping issues they are dealing with.

However, not proactively considering digital disposal issues is something that could cause significant problems for government business in the near future. The realities of digital data mean that unless long-term records are identified at or close to their creation, and unless active intervention and management of key records is performed, it is possible that these records will not survive for as long as they are needed to fulfil their legal and business obligations.

Digital disposal is valuable simply because it enables you to know which records need to be kept and which can be thrown away. The key risks relate to those records whose retention periods indicate that they will need to be kept longer than the business applications or systems they are part of. System change, upgrade or redevelopment is a key risk period for records and using disposal authorities to flag certain records for ongoing protection, management and use through these periods is critical. Digital disposal is therefore a key tactic to help ensure digital longevity, as well as a tool for managing increasing data storage and management costs, and therefore should be more actively encouraged across the NSW public sector. Unfortunately the survey responses indicate that it is just not a priority at present in many Government organisations.

The responses to the Digital disposal survey will inform State Records’ future work program for the development of tools and advice in relation to digital disposal. In addition, the issue of the importance of digital disposal will be a focal point of our communications to chief executives, ICT staff, business managers and records managers. Through our communications channels, and at other available opportunities, we will highlight the importance of digital disposal as a tool for enabling digital continuity and digital longevity.

We have posted the full report on the survey, 'The problems of identifying which digital records to keep and which to throw away: survey shows digital disposal is hard' on the Future Proof blog.

We would love to hear your responses, advice, comments, questions on digital disposal. Comment via the blog or email

SharePoint guidance

There has been a lot of interest and discussion about SharePoint recently, with many organisations viewing it as a replacement to existing records management systems. Many recordkeeping practitioners have asked us for advice regarding the recordkeeping functionality of SharePoint 2010, and how it can be configured to meet recordkeeping objectives.

We hope to release some general guidance on this issue in 2012, but in the interim some initial guidance is available from the FutureProof website. If you have some stories regarding a SharePoint implementation and what worked or didn’t work in relation to recordkeeping, we would love to hear from you. Please email

Records Managers' Forum, 17 November 2011

The latest Records Managers' Forum took place on 17 November at State Records' seminar room in The Rocks. The overarching theme was 'risk and recordkeeping'.

Kate Cumming from the Digital Recordkeeping team at State Records spoke about 'Meeting the challenges of digital recordkeeping'. Deborah Naray from the University of Technology Sydney gave an overview of the recordkeeping assessment programs that she and her staff have implemented across the 200+ business units at the University. Anne Picot from the University of Sydney discussed current work items being developed by the International Standards Organisation. Anne is involved in ISO Committee work to define and mitigate the range of risks affecting records.

Podcasts of all sessions are available on the State Records Future Proof website:

The first and second presentations have accompanying PowerPoint presentations available for download. Deborah's presentation also has accompanying extracts from documents developed as part of the University's assessment program.

Draft disposal triggers glossary

The Australasian Digital Recordkeeping Initiative (ADRI) is a collaboration between all ten national, state and territory public record institutions in Australia and New Zealand. ADRI have developed a draft glossary of disposal triggers to define the terms and meanings of commonly used triggers in ADRI disposal authorities. It aims to:

  • promote greater consistency in the terms used in Australian and New Zealand disposal authorities
  • automate triggers in electronic document and records management systems (EDRMS)
  • provide consistency in records retention across the sectors.

The draft is being released to the wider recordkeeping community in Australia and New Zealand for review and feedback. It is available from the ADRI website at

Each ADRI member, incuding State Records NSW, is also consulting with the relevant stakeholders within their jurisdiction. Comments are invited on any aspect of the draft Glossary and are due back by Tuesday 31 January 2012. Comments should be forwarded to Angela McGing, Project Office, Government Recordkeeping, State Records NSW, at

Managing recordkeeping risks in business systems

The second compliance requirement in the Standard on digital recordkeeping (to define records for your existing high risk business processes conducted digitally) came into effect on 30 June 2011. The final requirement will come into effect on 30 June 2012. This requires you to ensure that digital systems supporting your high risk business processes can be demonstrated to be recordkeeping systems.

If you are having issues you want to discuss regarding your assessment of business systems, please contact Government Recordkeeping on 02 8247 8627 or

We are running some more free workshops on managing recordkeeping risk in business systems in March and April of 2012 to assist you further in meeting these requirements. If you are interested in being a participant, please express your interest by emailing

Digital archives project update

The Digital Archives project recently posted an update on the Future Proof blog covering some of the project's recent activities, including the fit out of new office space and a server room at the Western Sydney Records Centre, technology procurement and the development and adoption of flexible software solutions to support digital continuity. Look out for more updates in 2012 on the blog and on Twitter @FutureProofNSW.

2011 Future Proof newsletter issued

Each year State Records distributes a newsletter to all Chief Executives in the State highlighting issues and challenges in relation to digital recordkeeping.

The 2011 Future Proof newsletter highlights that many public sector organisations are potentially at risk of losing vital digital information because they do not have adequate systems and controls in place to protect the information for as long as it is required. The newsletter discusses the major risks to information longevity, including risks posed by contractors and cloud computing arrangements.  It also recommends some key ways to be strategic with information to mitigate these risks. The newsletter is available on our website.

Update on digitisation guidelines

State Records is intending to release an Exposure Draft of our digitisation guidelines in late February or early March next year. These will consist of two separate guidelines:

  1. Managing business process digitisation programs –considerations for ongoing routine digitisation conducted as records are received and sent as part of business operations.
  2. Managing back-capture digitisation projects – considerations for retrospective or project-based digitisation of existing paper records.

If you require advice on digitisation prior to that time, please contact Government Recordkeeping. A list of existing resources concerning digitisation is also available on the digital recordkeeping page of our website.

Recent posts on Future Proof

Here are some of the posts from the Future Proof blog since the last edition of FTR:

Disposal in a digital environment

This post discusses some of the challenges of disposing of records in the digital environment. It includes a link to the summary of a workshop held on the same theme at the Records and Information Professionals Australasia (RIMPA) InForum 2011 Convention in Darwin.

Wrapped in plastic….A digital archives project update

In this post, Cassie Findlay discusses how we are travelling with our digital archives project, six months on. It includes discussion of three main areas:

  1. Systems we are developing
  2. ICT systems and hardware we are buying
  3. Our refurbishment of the Western Sydney Records Centre to include office space for the digital archives and a server room.

Have a happy festive season

This post summarises ‘the year that was’ in the Digital Recordkeeping Team and some plans for 2012.

Training calendar for 2012

The Training Calendar for 2012 is now available.

Records Management Assessment Tool

The Records Management Assessment Tool was released in 2010 as an exposure draft. Revisions have been made based on comments received and it will be re-released on the website in January. This self assessment tool can be used for measuring compliance and some performance monitoring activities. It measures:

  1. conformity with the requirements of the State Records Act and standards issued under the Act, and
  2. the capacity of the organisation in achieving best practice records management.

The tool consists of seven modules, which allows you to be flexible and to take different pathways in your monitoring activities. For example, you can choose to focus in on a particular topic and just do that module, or you could work through all seven modules for a comprehensive assessment.

If you have any questions about the Records Management Assessment Tool, please contact Catherine Robinson on (02) 8247 8631 or

Revised storage standard

Thank you to all public offices who provided feedback on the draft Standard on the physical storage of State records. The new storage standard and revised guidance will be issued in early 2012.

Revising Keywords for Councils

Keyword for Councils was developed and issued in 2001 and we are about to start the process of revising it.  If you would like to be on a reference group for the re-development of the product or provide feedback on Keyword for Councils, please contact Catherine Robinson on (02) 8247 8631 or

New Management Systems Standards

The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has recently announced the publication of two standards - ISO 30300:2011, Information and documentation - Management systems for records - Fundamentals and vocabulary, and ISO 30301:2011, Information and documentation - Management systems for records - Requirements.

The new standards are quite different from the series of specific records management standards which have been published internationally (such as Australian Standard AS ISO 15489:2002, Records Management) and do not replace any existing standards. The new standards address management and outline the purpose and requirements for establishing a management system for records in organisations, they do not address records programs and systems as such.

By implementing a management system for records an organisation can establish a high level framework for overseeing recordkeeping, which encompasses policy, planning, resourcing, goals and a regime of monitoring, review and continuous improvement. The new standards are written using the common text and high level structure of the management system standards so that they clearly integrate with the other existing management systems standards. Further information is available on the ISO web site. The new MSR standards have been proposed for adoption as Australian standards.

New retention and disposal authorities approved for use

State Records recently approved retention and disposal authority for Family and Community Services, Sydney Ferries, Victims' Services and the Institute of Psychiatrists. Copies of authorities are available from the Disposing of Records link from the recordkeeping part of our website.

Best wishes for the festive season

We wish our colleagues and clients all the best for the Christmas season and look forward to working with you in 2012.

© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2011.
First published December 2011
This work may be freely reproduced and distributed for most purposes, however some restrictions apply. See our copyright notice or contact us.
ISSN 1321-6260